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Community leaders recognized at CRH Foundation gala
Councilman Cleveland Stroud is presented his award by Mike Meyers - photo by Submitted Photo

Community pillars and leaders were honored at the first ever Conyers-Rockdale Heritage Foundation Gala fundraiser, held on May 18 at East Mountain Studios.

Nearly 200 guests came out for the inaugural gala. The theme was "Embracing our Heritage; Past, Present and Future."

The night's honorees were:
Coach and Councilman Cleveland Stroud - The Conyers-Rockdale Heritage Leadership Award
Commissioner JaNice Van Ness - The Cleveland Stroud Leadership Award
Former Sheriff Jeff Wigington - The Lifetime Achievement Award
Former County Chief of Staff Julie Mills - The Conyers-Rockdale Heritage Community Service Award
Superintendent Richard Autry - The Education "Soaring Eagle" Award
Guillermo Bravo, owner of Los Charros restaurants - The Trailblazer Business Award
Willie Gibson, President of the Rockdale NAACP - The Freedom Award
Paula Dominy, owner of Dominy School of the Performing Arts - The Queenie Smith "Olive Branch" Award

Councilman Cleveland Stroud and the late Miss Queenie Smith both had awards presented in their honor.

"We were expecting a crowd, but nothing like this" said Executive Director Yakima Douglas. "It was indeed a pleasure to see so many come out to support education." The newly formed foundation provides scholarships and resources for academic recognition.

Foundation Co-Chairmen Commissioner Oz Nesbitt and Councilman Cleveland Stroud greeted guests at the door. "This is an excellent turnout," said Nesbitt. "Everyone here feels as I, about bridging the gap in the community. The collective value of a community of one is priceless. Tonight, all of Conyers-Rockdale came together for the future common goal, community. The tone has been set, let's maintain the standard."

Rockdale County Public Schools Superintendent Richard Autry, upon receiving his award, said "Like the young people performing here tonight who did an excellent job, our focus should always be on working together, not on our differences. It's our differences and a cohesive spirit that will move this community forward."

As the recipient of the Cleveland Stroud Leadership Award, Commissioner JaNice VanNess said, "As a native of Conyers-Rockdale I'm humbled to receive this award. Coach Stroud is a living legend and fine example of what Leadership ought to be. I've always been an advocate for continued education. It's an honor to be appreciated, especially by the community in which you love and serve."

Maria Von Dickerson, former broadcaster and radio host said, "It is at this intersection of honoring the past, present, and future that we are all asked to stand. We stand here not only for ourselves but as a body committed to helping our community of students, parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors engaged in the path of connectivity as we instill higher learning."

The Master and Mistress of Ceremony for the evening was Jorge Lopez, a Conyers native and channel 12 CBS affiliate television reporter in Augusta, and Tanesha Lanier, the county administrator for the Neighborhood Stabilization Program.

The hostesses and greeters were the ladies of Ga Xtreme Youth Football League. Food was provided by Marshall Sport Bar & Grill, Sweet & Savory, O'Charley's, Los Bravos, Arby's, Hooters, and Zaxby's, local restaurants of the Conyers area. Awards were produced by ABC Awards of Conyers and sponsored by Mike Meyers and Associates Consulting Group, and Diversified Capital Property Management Group. Rental Equipment provided by All Seasons Rental, and photography was provided by Score Photo. Special performances were provided by Dominy School of the Performing Arts, The Alzo Youth Theatre, The Appalachian Art Barn, Bahiyah African Dance Company, and the Swagger Crew Fit Kidz.

For more information go to or call 706-495-0049.